Joanne Clifton ended 2016 on a high as she scooped the coveted glitterball trophy with her Strictly Come Dancing partner Ore Oduba, beating her brother, Kevin Clifton, to win the show. Speaking to HELLO! in January 2017, Joanne explained how she was gearing up to perform in the UK tour of Broadway’s hit musical, Throughly Modern Millie, following her success.
"It was the one role I had always wanted to take on," Joanne said. "It is the perfect musical for me. I always have new ambitions and I do everything to get to my goals, however long it takes. I'm determined that once I've achieved one goal, I set my sights on a new one." She added: "When I was younger I did both dance and singing lessons. It got to a point where my parents said we will support you whichever way you choose to go but we can't really afford both, so I had to choose between dance and theatre school."
Joanne spoke to HELLO! in 2017 after winning Strictly
Grimsby-born Joanne, 34, chose to dance and her goal was to become a ballroom world champion, like her parents. Inspired by a couple she saw dancing at Blackpool Tower Ballroom, she took herself to the same dance school where they had trained – which happened to be in Bologna. "I was only 16 and it was definitely tough but I’m really determined," said Joanne. "I remember getting off the plane on my own with just a suitcase in Bologna and thinking, 'Okay, I'm nervous, I don't know anyone, this is a start of a new life and a new journey and I want to make it.'"
She beat her brother Kevin in the Strictly 2016 final
Joanne and Kevin (whom she went head to head with in the Strictly final, when he was partnered with Louise Redknapp) are friends as well as siblings. "He is one year and 11 days older than me. When we were younger, our mum used to dress us in matching colours and a lot of people thought we were twins. We've always been close but me winning Strictly has somehow brought us closer," said Joanne.
"Kevin has been in the final for four years now so the first thing I said to him when the camera was turned off was 'Sorry'. He said, 'Don't ever say that again because there's no one in this room who could be more proud of you than me. You're my little sister and I want you to do well.'"
Joanne was partnered with Ore Oduba
After winning Strictly, Joanne became life-long friends with Ore and his wife Portia. "They are such a genuine couple. There's a special bond, the three of us, that won't be broken," she said. Her replica Glitterball is on display at her family home in Grimsby. "My roots will always be in the north," she said. "My grandma used to say, 'Whatever you do in life and wherever you go, always remember who you are and where you came from.' I will always be Joanne from Grimsby."
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